Month: September 2014

Busting the Domestic Abuse Myths #8: Women suffer 35 or more incidents of domestic abuse before getting help but no male figure

This figure is still being used even though it is over 30 years old and relates to Canadian women. It may indeed be true, in fact it could be more, but no such research was carried on male victims so there is no reciprocal data. Its use without the reciprocal data again means the male voice and statistics on male victims are not being used.

The CPS use it, as do Refuge and Women’s Aid (though they do caveat it)

So where does it come from?

The source is Canadian academic Dr. Peter G Jaffe and the research paper is called An integrated response to wife assault : a community model.

Some sources say 1982 and others say 1984, but the research took place in 1981. And it was only conducted with female victims. Male victims were certainly never recognised way back then.

At least we know in the UK now, figures for female victims have reciprocal figures for male victims, even if some selectively only choose to use the female victims still.

Busting the Domestic Abuse Myths #7: Women are three times as likely to be arrested for domestic abuse then men

In 2009, Professor Marianne Hester at Bristol University produced research called Who Does What to Whom.

The assertion was made that women accused of domestic abuse were three times more likely to be arrested than a man. This myth has turned into fact and is still being used wholesale without challenge.

 

The research is very limited in terms of sample size (32 male and 32 female perpetrators) but also there is no comparison on the actual severity of the crimes involved – only such a comparison can be made when a man puts a knife in his female partner’s back and doesn’t get arrested but a women is arrested when the genres are reversed.

In addition, Ally Fogg (freelance journalist and writer) also wrote to say that “What we have here is not the ratio of how many men/women are arrested against how often they have committed an offence, but the ratio of how many men/women are arrested against how often a police officer decides that, on the balance of probabilities, they might have been more at fault.”

Busting the Domestic Abuse Myths #6: Two women are killed but no mention of the male figure

One per year, is one too many.

The main concern on the use of two women being killed by their male partner every week statistic, is not so much that the annual figure is generally lower than this (77), but the fact that when it is produced in the media, by the government and by others, the male equivalent figure is never used (15). The figures from the British Crime Survey are here BCS 2012 13 (pub Feb 14) homicides and relationship

Busting the Domestic Abuse Myths #4: Domestic abuse is overwhelmingly committed against women by men.

A line not used so much now but it can still be found actively being used by organisations such as Paladin.

Why is it such a problem?

Firstly, as acknowledged by the government and increasingly the mainstream, 38% of victims of domestic abuse are male which means 62% of victims are women which cannot be said to be “overwhelming”.

Secondly, again it is used to marginalise male victims so that public policy, services and recognition is wholly geared to supporting female victims, and not all victims based on need.

Our friends at PARITY who after seeing the figure being consistently used and unchallenged three years ago complained to the UK Statistical Authority (Correspondence 1 and Correspondence 2) They said the phrase “overwhelmingly” could not be used by statutory agencies as the ratio between men and women could not be seen as being overwhelming. The Crown Prosecution Service had been using it for years beforehand which greatly damaged the cases of male victims and female perpetrators coming before the court.

Busting the Domestic Abuse Myths #3: Domestic abuse services are being taking away from female victims and given to male victims

A number of assertions, presented as fact, have been made that domestic abuse services are being cut from female victims and given to men. The chief executive of Women’s Aid has said  “We have been told by local Women’s Aid federation organisations that they are funded locally on the basis they have to provide services to male victims, and they are rarely used despite putting time and money into promoting this.”

This is untrue. There is no evidence.

The chairman of the charity asked the chief executive on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour for evidence – but none has still been published or proved.

The Guardian in August led with a story that domestic abuse services for female victims were being cut – which is shameful. One of the arguments put forward on why this is happening through the Guardian is that commissioners such as councils are:

  • taking some funding allocated for female victims and reallocating some to services for male victims – thereby cutting female services
  • making “funding cuts [to female refuges] because refuges do not take men” (and therefore it is presumed funding being given to groups that do take men)
  • the refuge places for men are not being used and/or have had no referrals.

 

The information in the Guardian about The Haven (who do a great job in supporting female victims) was untrue – as in Wolverhampton they do not offer services for men yet (there was a tentative proposal to open male spaces early this year but this cannot progress sadly until the council determines the services they want tendered, hence why they have had no referrals).

Coventry council, as shown in the online piece from the national commentator Ally Fogg are increasing the budget for domestic abuse victims, some of this increase will be for male services, but not at the cost of services for female victims. The council’s paper proves this.

This particular line of argument about the awful cuts in female services is of great concern to us.

Firstly because of the lack of real and hard evidence that these cuts in female services are based on an increase in services for male victims. Six weeks ago, I asked in a Radio 4 debate on Woman’s Hour for this evidence to be published.

Secondly, it is an unnecessary and unacceptable attempt to portray service provision for male victims (such as it is*) in a negative light (‘ if there is a male service opening near you it must be because the council took funding away from female victims’) – and also to try and marginalise male victims in general.

All of us in the sector should be calling for more provision and support for victims of all genders. It is a competition for more services for all victims, not a competition of one gender against another.

The chairman asked a wide range of organisations it works with whether they knew of this but no one has come forward.

Busting the Domestic Abuse Myths #2: The majority of male victims are gay

In a piece in the Daily Telegraph, following the release of the #violenceisviolence video, the following claim was made:

“It’s also really important to recognise that in the remaining 11 per cent, men are more at risk when they are in same sex relationships. Quite simply, proportionately very few perpetrators of domestic violence where there is ongoing abuse are female.”

If we ignore the fact that the true figure for repeat incident is 30% male, 70% female as shown previously – does this claim stack up?

It is very carefully worded but gives the impression of the remaining 11%, that the majority of this is made of gay men, so heterosexual men are in the minority.

Not true.

The percentage of gay or bi-sexual men (6.2%) who suffered partner abuse in 2008/09 (the last figures by sexuality) is nearly double the number for heterosexual men (3.3%). Women in same-sex relationships (12.4%) as a percentage also suffered far more partner abuse compared to heterosexual women (4.3%). The figure for females in same-sex relationships never gets aired.

These figures can be found on page 76 here

According to the National Census, a total of 1.5% of men said they were gay while 0.7% of women defined themselves as gay or lesbian. However, 5% of men declared themselves as not being heterosexual.

In the British Crime Survey, extrapolating the population figures it shows that in 2008/09, there were 16.15 million men who lived in England and Wales between the ages of 16-59.

98% heterosexual/2% gay

Heterosexual = 15,827,000

Gay= 323,000

95% heterosexual / 5% gay (non-heterosexual)

Heterosexual = 15,342,500

Non-heterosexual = 807,500

Working back from the population figures and the percentage stating they are victims of partner abuse, the actual numbers are:

Heterosexual men

(3.3% are partner abuse victims)

Gay or Bisexual Men

(6.2% are partner abuse victims)

Actual numbers (98%/2%) 522,000 (96.2%) 20,026 (3.8%)
Actual numbers (95%/5%) 506,302 (90.5%) 50,065 (9.5%)

There is a disparity in the extrapolation as only 430,000 men declared they were victims of partner abuse in 08/09 but as the same percentages are applied, the actual figures are proportionate.

The figures show therefore that for every 20 victims of partner abuse, between 18-19 will be a heterosexual men and between 1-2 will be a gay man.

This means that while gay men are twice as likely to be victims of partner abuse than heterosexual men, gay men do not make up the majority of actual male victims suffering partner abuse. This is due to relatively small numbers of gay men in UK society.

So the intimation that of the 11% of people who suffer more than four incidents of partner abuse (while not true anyway) are more likely to be gay is not true.  Of that 11%, this will be made up of c1% of gay men.

Busting the Domestic Abuse Myths #1: 89% of people who suffer four or more incidents of domestic abuse are women.

A very familiar statistic and one used by the two leading charities (Women’s Aid and Refuge) is that 89% of people who suffer four or more incidents of domestic abuse are women.

This has been mutated away from the original British Crime Survey research by Walby and Allen in 2004 who said “Among people subject to four or more incidents of domestic violence from the perpetrator of the worst incident (since age 16) 89 per cent were women”. (British Crime Survey, Walby & Allen, 2004)” This is different to all incidents.

So what are the facts?

 

The latest British Crime Survey looks at Partner Abuse and produces this table:

 

Appendix table 4.12:  Number of times victims of partner abuse had been abused by partner(s) in the last year, 2012/13 CSEW1
 
England and Wales Adults aged 16 to 59
Men Women All
Percentage
     
Once 22 19 20
More than once 27 30 29
Twice 6 9 8
Three to five times 13 8 10
Between six and 20 times 4 8 7
Between 21 and 49 times 1 2 2
More than 50 times/Too many times to count 3 3 3
Don’t know 19 11 14
Don’t wish to answer 32 39 37
Unweighted base                  280                  772               1,052
  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
 

 

The same survey estimates that in 2012/13 the gender split for partner abuse in numbers was:

  Men Women
Partner Abuse 517,000 845,000
Partner Abuse – non sexual 460,000 652,000

 

Therefore, taking more than five incidents as the benchmark (i.e. 6 or more as the benchmark), as the four or more incidents used in the Walby and Allen research is not available, means that

(i) – Partner Abuse

  • Men: 8% of 517,000 = 41,360 (28%)
  • Women: 13% of 845,000 = 109,850 (72%)

 

(ii) Partner Abuse – non-sexual

  • Men: 8% of 460,000 = 36,800 (30%)
  • Women: 13% of 652,000 = 84,760 (70%)

The conclusion is that of those

  • who suffered more than five incidents of partner abuse in the last year, government’s figures show 30% were men and 70% were women.
  • of men who suffered partner abuse last year, one in 12 (8%) suffered more than 5 times as did one in six women (13%).

Launch of domestic abuse myths series ‘ Busting the Myths’ : The need to end the marginalisation of male victims

Domestic Abuse Myths Series: The need to end the marginalisation of male victims

 

Over the next week, I will be debunking a number of domestic abuse myths which are being used to marginalise the voices and recognition of male victims of domestic abuse.

The charity’s view is clear: domestic abuse is multi-dimensional. It happens to people of all genders, races and sexualities – it should therefore be defined as a crime. It not a gendered crime – which is an ideological position that is not borne of the facts and has no place in today’s society if we want equality of support for all victims based on need.

These myths are both powerful and dangerous as their use and acceptance leads to the marginalisation of support and recognition of male victims – in heterosexual and same sex relationships and also for female victims in same-sex relationships.

This marginalisation leads to:

  • The development and execution of public policy that only supports female victims and male perpetrators.
  • Public awareness campaigns that frame this issue only as female victims where a man is the perpetrator.
  • The lack of services on the ground to support men – either the extension of existing services or the creation of new ones. For instance there are huge swathes of the UK with no safe house/refuge provision for males and their children.
  • The lack of self awareness for men who are suffering that they are a domestic abuse victim, the lack of knowledge of what they can do to escape and that they will be believed. Without any public information campaigns including males. Men who are suffering domestic abuse are not able to identify as a victim, have no knowledge of what they can do to escape and cannot be confident that they will be believed.
  • The lack of societal recognition so that the overwhelming view is that only women are victims so society does not recognise the signs in a man, and at the extreme end, think it is funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PgH86OyEM

 

The reason this happens is that understandably the media (who are under a lot of pressure) and also service providers wanting to put information in the public domain (councils, police forces, etc) will take statistics that are commonly used and accept them as a fact. Especially if they think the sources are credible. That is why it is necessary to ensure that the real facts are in the public domain.

It has been shown by leading academics in the UK that, in relationships where domestic abuse is occurring, it is mainly mutual (they are both committing it against one another) and according to that research where there is a primary aggressor, it is likely to be a woman and the victim a man. This is not shown in the British Crime Survey because that is anonymous survey, and men routinely under-report or do not recognise or want to admit they are a victim. When this research is published, such as Testing Predictions, this research has not been actively challenged.

The challenges here will be based on the British Crime Survey (the Office for National Statistics standard) which helpfully also uses both domestic abuse and partner abuse (a subset of domestic abuse). This series will try and use both and the partner abuse figures are more powerful as they show the abuse between adults in an intimate relationship whereas domestic abuse statistics include family members.

 

In the Busting the Myth series, this will cover the following damaging myths:

  #1: 89% of four or more incidents of domestic abuse are women.

#2: The majority of male victims are gay

#3: Services are being taking away from female victims and given to men

#4: Domestic abuse is overwhelmingly committed against women by men

#5: Domestic violence is the biggest killer of women under 40 in the world

#6: Two women are killed each week but no mention of the male figure

#7 Woman are three times more likely to be arrested than a man

#8: Women suffer 35 or more incidents of domestic abuse before getting help

This should provide support to those who are campaigning for recognition of male victims, to ensure all victims are supported. At its core, the charity uses the British Crime Survey statistics through its “25 Key Facts_Feb 2014 (final)” and this busting the Myths series will help to overlay them.

We should concentrate on people and individuals, not, on gender.

Charity issues Welsh Assembly consultation response to ensure the voice of male victims in Wales are heard

The Welsh Government have created A Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill and the Welsh Assembly are currently consulting on it – the details and process can be found here. The  Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee i the Welsh Assembly have been tasked with reviewing the Bill and set out a public consultation.

We submitted a ManKind Initiative Consultation Response response and are appearing before the committee on October 2014.

The charity is supportive of the Welsh Government’s Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill in principle and recognises that it is a step forward in ensuring the victims of these crimes receive the protection and support they need.

However, the charity believes there are a number of issues that will need to be addressed to ensure that in Wales, all victims of these crimes receive the protection and support they need. A law that supports victims of domestic abuse is supported, but often from the charity’s experience, the application of law in terms of the provision of services for male victims, is lacking.

These issues, include:

(i) recognising and accepting that domestic abuse is not a gender-based crime. It is therefore vital that the part of the bill’s title entitled “Gender-based Violence” is recognised and interpreted as being separate to “domestic abuse”. An answer could be to rename the Bill on an alphabetical basis: Domestic Abuse, Gender-based Violence and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill.

 

(ii)  if forced marriage and honour-based violence are viewed as being gender-based crimes, then how will male victims of these crimes be equally recognised and supported as female victims of these crimes?

 

(iii) ensuring national and local strategies fully recognise male victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence and that the strategies explicitly address the needs of male victims. This also includes service commissioning, staff training and awareness raising.